BEHIND THE BRAND: Ocelot

Ocelot chocolate bars have been stocked in our Parcels since we launched in 2017 and have since become one of our most popular products. From the individual packaging design, to the truly delicious taste, it’s no wonder you guys love them! We had a chat with Matt, one half of the couple behind this Edinburgh based brand, to find out how Ocelot came to be. 

Parcel London blog. Ocelot chocolate founders, entrepenur, behind the brand

Parcel: Tell us a little bit about your business and how it began. What first encouraged you to go into the chocolate industry?

Matt: Ish and I had worked together as chefs in France and Italy and we had always enjoyed cooking with (and of course eating) chocolate. 

Ocelot had a very humble beginning - the business was started from a back-room in our flat in 2013. At first we sold our bars to a few shops around Edinburgh, as well as braving the Scottish weather every weekend at farmers' markets. However since then we have gone on to create our own 3000sq ft chocolate factory in Edinburgh, and we have four amazing full time staff. 

We only use the finest organic and ethical ingredients, with a focus on minimal ingredients and maximum quality.

P: Origin of ingredients is something that consumers are becoming much more aware of recently, how involved are you with the bean suppliers that you work with?

M: We work very closely with our chocolate supplier Original Beans. We have a great relationship with Philipp and the team and completely trust them to source our chocolate in the most ethical way. We are planning a visit to source with them very soon. 

P: Chocolate is one of our most popular gift categories at Parcel, almost a universal truth that everyone enjoys it. Has chocolate always been something you love? 

M: You could say we are a bit obsessed with good quality chocolate; to us it's in a food group all of its own, and cannot be compared to a regular chocolate bar. High-grade dark chocolate – like a fine wine or a specialty cheese – is up there with the most special things in the world and it is an experience to savour.

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P: Your packaging is beautiful, how do you come up with the designs? 

M: We take great pride in designing all of our packaging ourselves – Ish studied illustration at art school, while I've always loved art and graphic design – so this is a hugely important part of our business.

The design process always starts with the flavour; our relationship with it, how it makes us feel, the colours and pictures we see when we think about that chocolate. For us, it's not just about creating pretty patterns, there is always a deep connection between that bar and its origins, its flavours, and us as the people who made it. When we created our Almond bar we had just come back from a trip to Barcelona and our minds were filled with sunlit memories of Gaudi's stained-glass windows, sun-warmed mosaics, tapas on the pavement. So these feelings inspired the bar and also the wrapper. We’re in the process of designing a whole new range of bars and are very excited to share the results with you soon. 

P: Which aspects of running your own business do you most like, and how do you find running a business as a couple?

M: Without a doubt the best part is the flexibility. Being your own boss means you can decide when and where you work. We have a two year old son so this flexibility is incredibly important and means we can run the business and look after him simultaneously. 

Working together as husband and wife is an incredibly rewarding experience but it can also be challenging at times. At first it was hard to separate our personal lives from the business. We have learned over the years to take nothing personally and our working relationship has become as strong as our personal one.

P: If you could go back to 2013 and give yourself some advice before starting up on your own, what would that be?

M: Relax and enjoy the ride. We have had a long hard road; there were plenty of tears and banging-head-on-wall moments. Chocolate is an immensely complex and demanding product and we are still learning everyday that we work with it. It's been a difficult but amazing and gratifying process for us. Not giving up is the hardest challenge any small business will ever face and the only way you will keep going is by having ludicrous optimism and confidence in what you are doing.

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P: What has been your proudest moment since launching Ocelot?

M: Probably having our own display in Harrods. We were picked as one of six British chocolate brands to be part of their 'Chocolate Wall' and we have a huge space where only Ocelot bars are for sale. Having this much space is very rare in the retail world and even more so in arguably the most prestigious department store in the world. 

P: What are your goals for the future of the brand?

M: We currently export to about 15 countries worldwide and we would like to add even more countries to our list. One of the best parts of running your own business is travelling and visiting the stores that stock your product. In 2016 we took a trip to Shanghai - it was a very weird feeling to see the locals buying our chocolate in the super-luxury department store CitySuper. We don’t have a big presence in the US at present and would love to see our chocolate being enjoyed over there. 

P: As usual for our final question: What’s the best gift you’ve ever been given?

M: For my 30th birthday Ish organised a trip to Copenhagen and she managed to get a reservation at Noma for my birthday lunch. It was one of the best meals we’ve ever had. We got to chat with the owner / chef Rene Redzepi who is a massive food hero of ours. Then we had a tour of the kitchens and food-labs and got to try some upcoming dishes. 

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